This photograph taken on June 5, 2014, shows a general view of destroyed buildings in the village of Deh Saqi on The Shomali Plains some 20 kms north of Kabul. (AFP Photo)
Mullah Mohammad Fazl is the Taliban’s former Deputy Defense Minister, and was held in the Guantanamo Bay detention camps in Cuba until Barack Obama released him in June 2014. It is alleged that he is responsible for killing thousands of Shi’a Afghans between 1996 and late 2001.
The release of a Taliban leader accused of orchestrating industrial-scale carnage in Afghanistan’s pristine Shomali plains in 1999, torching homes and carrying out summary executions, has horrified villagers for whom memories of the slaughter are still raw.
Mullah Mohammad Fazl was released from Guantanamo Bay along with four other senior Taliban insurgents – also accused of a litany of abuses – last Saturday in exchange for US army sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, the only American prisoner of war who was held hostage for five years.
The swap has sparked anger and resentment in Shomali villages such as Deh Saqi, which still bear the scars of that cataclysm – charred, ruined and bombed out houses and an anguished generation with a thirst for vengeance.
“Why is the US releasing the enemies of peace, the enemies of Afghanistan?” fumed Mohammad Arif, who fled to the Pakistani city of Peshawar with 18 members of his extended family after the bloody assault, only to return when US-led forces ousted the Taliban from power in 2001.
“The Taliban only know how to kill, maim and plunder. They only know destruction and devastation,” said the 53-year-old Afghan farmer, who has struggled to shake off painful memories of the devastation wreaked by a cadre of marauding insurgents.